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UK Government Announces £5,000 Grants Towards Purchase of Electric Drive Vehicles and First “Plugged-in Places”

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed details of the financial incentives that will be made available to buyers of electric cars from January 2011. The subsidy will be worth 25% of a car’s recommended retail price up to a value of £5,000 (US$7,600) and will be available to consumers and business buyers until 2014 (subject to notifying the technical requirements of the scheme to and getting state aid approval from the European Commission).

The Plug-in Car Grant will be distributed directly to consumers at the point of purchase and will be managed in a similar way to the grant made as part of the Government’s scrappage scheme. Cars will be discounted at the point of purchase and the subsidy claimed by the manufacturer to provide a straightforward process for the consumer.

Total funding of £230 million (US$351 million) is available throughout the scheme. Once it has been in place for 12 months, there will be a review to assess whether any changes need to be made. Any changes to the scheme as a result of this review would be implemented from April 2012.

Qualifying criteria for the Plug-in Car Grant
Vehicle type M1 (i.e., cars only)
Must be Battery electric, plug-in hybrid or a hydrogen fuel cell car
CO2 Emissions 0 g/km for EV
Max 75 g/km for PHEV
Vehicle performance Min range 70 miles (113 km) EV
Min electric range 10 miles (16 km) PHEV
Max speed of at least 60mph (96km/h)
Warranty, vehicle: 3 years or 75,000 miles (120,000 km)
Warranty, battery: 3 years for the battery with a requirement to offer 5 if requested by consumer
Battery degradation: a rate of degradation such that it retains a reasonable degree of performance after a three year period of normal use.
Safety Crash safety:
  • EC whole vehicle type approval; OR
  • crash tested to acceptable international standards (namely, i) A tailored protocol based on EuroNCAP ii) Compliance with crash testing regimes in other developed international markets of similar stringency to Europe; for example USA, Japan, Korea etc)
Consumer electrical safety:
  • Manufacturers to confirm they have assessed the risks associated with the use of the vehicles, have developed appropriate mitigating actions and will inform the consumer of these.
  • Compliance with UN-ECE Reg 100

Although DfT says that a number of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle models are expected to be available in the UK by 2011 and to be eligible for the Plug-in Car Grant, a report by The Guardian concluded that the slow roll-out of electric vehicles means that the pricey Tesla Roadster and the Mitsubishi i-Miev will be only two cars initially eligible for new £5,000 grant.

Existing electric cars, such as the G-Wiz—the most popular consumer electric car on UK streets—and the MEGA e-City will not be eligible because they do not go fast enough.

Existing electric car distributors such as Goingreen—whose £9,000 G-Wiz is ineligible for the scheme—may also be hit as buyers delay purchasing an electric vehicle until the grants begin in 2011. Nick Hewson, owner of Goingreen warned the grant could be used as a justification for putting up the price of cheaper, under-45mph electric vehicles. “This [new grant scheme] is now a disincentive for anyone looking at buying the quadricycle type of electric vehicles [such as its G-Wiz]. I think what will end up in happening is the grants will allow manufacturers [of cheaper electric vehicles] to put the price point up.”

Plugged-in Places. The Government also announced plans to roll-out the first tranche of a £30 million (US$46 million) fund for a network of electric vehicle hubs—called Plugged-In Places—which will see electric vehicle charging infrastructure appearing in car parks, major supermarkets, leisure and retail centres, as well as on the street.

The first Plugged-In Places are London, Milton Keynes and the North East; and between them they will be installing over 11,000 vehicle recharging points during the next three years. A second competition for Plugged-in Places funding is to follow later in the year, with consortia from the West Midlands, Cornwall, Sheffield, the Lake District, Greater Manchester and Northern Ireland planning to bid for funding.

The initiatives are part of a £450 million (US$687 million) Government strategy to support the creation of a flourishing early market for ultra-low carbon vehicles.

These measures will be delivered by the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) working closely with partners including the Energy Technologies Institute and the Technology Strategy Board. OLEV will be assessing the feasibility of charging along strategic corridors with the Highways Agency and motorway service area operators; and of charging infrastructure at railway station parking facilities with the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and Network Rail.



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